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The Spatialists: AureaSection Talk Naumachia

Last week we ran a video of an indie space combat game called Naumachia: Space Warfare. We got in touch with Italian developers AureaSection and Lorenzo Pasini agreed to answer some questions about the upcoming game. Some of you might already be familiar with the team's work: they made Half-Life mod, The Specialists.

RPS: Can you tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea of Naumachia? Are there any specific games that influence the design?

Pasini: Well, we had to evaluate what type/kind of game we could do ourselves without producing too many assets (we are three guys working on the game) and at the same time, look for a less "common" genre. Later on, space games had kept moving forward to commerce/RPG gameplay, and each time I try one of these.. well I'd say that the combat/action part really sucks, at least for someone like me that enjoyed titles named Freespace, X wing vs Tie fighter and other ones in which combat/dogfight were the focus of the game. We then had quite a good response from public, it seems that times are mature for a return of the space genre to a more "action" point of view. To completely fulfill the question, I'd like to add that we also like a lot ship/gear customization, so we can throw in a MechWarrior series style of tuning for the assets available to players (from a simple fighter to a large capital ship).

RPS: A related question - do you feel like space combat games have been neglected in the past few years?

Pasini: I'd say yes. So far I found few space titles oriented to combat/action, and even if we are adding a tactical/strategic component to the game, we don't care much about commerce or economy issues, or at least, I'd accept such a gaming style that doesn't punish combat with arguable control/feeling.

RPS: Will there be single-player aspects?

Pasini: You can play the game offline, trying the various scenarios as a preparation for the multiplayer part, but it will be just a "skirmish" mode, at least for our first release. If everything goes well, we do not exclude to add single-player campaign in further expansions (maybe playable also in coop with other friends).

RPS: Can you explain to us how your "free, but with a license option" payment system will work?

Pasini: You download the game, install it, register and try it free forever. However your rank during online matches, will never grow up beyond a certain limit; let's say the maximum rank is 5, a free player won't never go beyond 2nd. By this the players can try and enjoy the game but won't be able to employ all the weapons/ships available to licensed users.

RPS: Tell us a bit about the team - who are you and how did you come to be making Naumachia?

Pasini: Well, we're basically a very small team composed by 3 guys, two of which share part of the genetic code, Filippo and Michele (they are brothers of course!) From what I'm saying it's clear that I'm the "alien" one between the two brothers. We are the same team that was behind the 2002 release of a well known Half-Life mod called The Specialists; our friendship (and collaboration) is more than ten years old.

Speaking of me, I'm a Biologist who has always been passionate for games with their design in general, and I've always liked modeling 3D objects in the free time, so these are my main areas of competence for Naumachia: Space Warfare, and they were basically the same at the time of TS. We are running after the desire to create a game "our way" that hopefully will meet the tastes of the public.

As you can see we were reality as a team also before starting our first stand alone project. If I have to say it all, we met during '98, at the time playing LAN games in Michele and Filippo's house (I remember we kept playing hours to Action Quake and/or Total Annihilation). Later on during that year I discovered Half-Life. The Specialists came almost naturally after that; we started by making a mod to be played during our lan matches and then we realized that we could polish it and release it to the public. We then had a pause (Filippo went working for Crytek some years) and I took my degree in the meantime.

RPS: What has been the biggest challenge in developing the game so far? And what do you still have left to do?

Pasini: The biggest challenge is to try to see the point in which a normal user that starts the game, has clear what to do with it (I mean controls, gameplay, interface and so on). I (we) realize that working alone on a game for so many months, might be problematic because what's natural for us, doesn't necessary is for someone that has never started the game. This is one of the big things left to improve.. the main one is always the same: release the game.

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Jim Rossignol